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Things To Do in The Brecon Beacons On A Short Break + (maps and driving times)

Things To Do in The Brecon Beacons On A Short Break + (maps and driving times)

Are you looking for a getaway to the Brecon Beacons but unsure what to do there? Well, I’ve got you covered! This 3-night Brecon Beacons itinerary highlights all the fabulous things to do in the Brecon Beacons that I discovered on a short break.

Visiting the Brecon Beacons in Wales is an absolute must. It is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the UK and is close to Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol. This makes it a fabulous place to spend a long weekend.

If you love the great outdoors and enjoy walking, hiking, discovering waterfalls, visiting pretty villages and exploring ancient monuments, the Brecon Beacons is the place for you.

My 3-nights in the Brecon Beacons were part of a longer trip to Pembrokeshire. I stayed at The Plough Inn at Rhosmaen, just outside Llandeilo, on the outskirts of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.

Post Update: In April 2023, the Brecon Beacons were renamed Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, the Welsh name meaning the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom. Brychan was a legendary 5th-century Welsh king.

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Are the Brecon Beacons Worth Visiting?

Absolutely! You can discover ancient ruins, charming villages, fabulous hiking trails, dazzling waterfalls and the mighty Pen-Y-Fan mountain. What more could you want?

The National Park is one of the UK’s most beautiful areas, covering 519 square miles of lush, unspoilt Welsh countryside.

It consists of four main areas: Black Mountain in the west, Fforest Fawr Unesco Geopark, Central Beacons and the Black Mountains in the east.

It’s a fabulous place to visit for a short break in Wales and a destination you can’t help but fall in love with.

Driving from England to Wales

Driving times will always vary according to traffic and weather conditions and, of course, the dreaded roadworks that always seem to be on the route you want to use!

We left home at 10 am from Surrey in England and crossed the Severn Bridge into Wales at 2 pm, a total of 4 hours driving.

From that point, it took us until around 5 pm to reach our hotel, with stops to visit Castell Coch (a fail as we hadn’t pre-booked tickets) and the Black Mountain Quarries (a success because it’s open to all!) So, from home to The Plough Inn took 7 hours.

Remember your driving times to allow for convenience and sightseeing stops on route. Pack snacks and water for your journey so you don’t need to stop for a meal.

Top Tip: Do you want to drive to Wales but don’t own a car? Discovercars rents vehicles at reasonable prices and with good ratings.

Ultimate Brecon Beacons 3-Day Itinerary including Directions

Please note that even though the driving times between locations may seem long, the scenery is stunning, so every journey is delightful.

Day One

Castell Coch

Driving for 30 miles into Wales after crossing the Severn Bridge from England will bring you to one of Wales’s fairytale castles.

Castell Coch (meaning red castle) is a turreted Gothic revival castle built in Victorian times as an elaborate folly to showcase the wealth and imagination of its owner, the Third Marquess of Bute.

Castell Coch to Henryd Falls – 60 minutes

Henryd Falls

Also known as the waterfall used in the Batman film “The Dark Knight”, this is the tallest waterfall in South Wales with a drop of 90 feet. Henryd Falls is one of several Brecon Beacons waterfalls in the area, giving it the nickname “Waterfall Country”.

You will hear the intense thundering of the water before you see the waterfall. A bonus is that you can walk behind this waterfall, which is fun but will get you very wet; bring a change of clothes! Walking down is quite slippery even with proper boots, so ensure your grip is good.

If time is on your side, you can add a walk from Henryd Falls to Nant Llech across fields, taking in two smaller waterfalls on the route.

Top Tip: A free National Trust car park is by the Falls entrance in Coelbren, SA10 9PH.

steps down to the waterfall
Henryd Falls
Henryd Falls to Black Mountain Quarries – 30 minutes

Black Mountain Quarries

Our first taste of the enormity of the Brecons was the Black Mountain Quarries, a large area of abandoned limestone quarries.

We drove towards Llangadog on the A4069 to our accommodation in Llandeilo and were stunned at the landscape’s natural beauty.

A brief stop and walk near the car park allowed us to breathe in the fresh Welsh air and take in the seemingly never-ending views. This was a great start to our trip, and I would love to return to the Black Mountains and explore them longer.

Visitors can also experience red Kite feeding in Llangadog, and although we missed the time slots of 2 pm and 3 pm, it looks like a fun thing to do in the Brecon Beacons for bird-watchers, photographers and animal lovers.

Black Mountain Quarries
quarries
road through the Black Mountain
Black Mountain Quarries to The Plough Inn – 25 minutes

Day Two

The Plough Inn to Lyn Brianne – 35 minutes.

Lyn Brianne Dam and Reservoir

Lyn Brianne Dam and reservoir,  just outside Llandewi Brefi, is in a beautiful setting and is an engineering masterpiece.

The drive to it through the Welsh country lanes is pretty, but there aren’t any signposts for the reservoir, so to make it easy for you, here is the postcode Llandovery SA20 0PG.

If you are lucky, you will see the dam in full force, spilling water over and down the sluice. On our visit, the water level in the reservoir wasn’t high enough, so we only got to see the hydroelectric generating station at the foot of the sluice propelling water into the air. It is still imposing and so powerful.

The reservoir is simply stunning, and a 27km walking route starts at the dam and stretches right up to the lake’s northern tip before coming back down.

We walked for a few miles, but because we had a lot of other things to do in the Brecon Beacons, we didn’t venture too far. We did the short flat walk on a gravel surface, which is easy for most ability levels to manage. The west side of the walk is a forestry track, and the east side is a road.

Under the reservoir, there are a couple of flooded houses. Before floods raised the water level, walking to the Fannog farmhouse was possible.

Top Tip: Keep an eye out for the roof of the flooded Fannog farmhouse when the water level is low.

Lyn Brianne Dam
Lyn Brianne Walk
water shooting from hydroelectric dam
Lyn Brianne to Abergwesyn Common –  30 minutes

Abergwesyn Common

Leaving Lyn Brianne Dam, don’t exit onto the road you arrived on; instead, take the road up to your left and prepare for the most breathtaking scenery you could imagine.

The road takes you around the rim of the reservoir to Abergwesyn Common.

On the way, several car parks enable you to admire the view back across the reservoir or go for one of several Brecon Beacon walks in this area.

Aerial view of Lyn Brianne

The 16,500-acre Abergwesyn Common is visually stunning and was bought with donations from local people and charitable funds in memory of those who have died for the United Kingdom.

It is a fitting tribute to such men and women, with a stream rushing through it and far-reaching views from its peaks.

Walking trails take you around the commons, rich in archaeology, from Bronze Age ritual sites to deserted medieval villages. Wherever you walk, you’ll likely come across a cairn – a stone circle – or standing stone, evidence of human activity dating back thousands of years.

We stopped and admired the views and saw others walking across this area’s diverse and mesmerising landscape, and we vowed to return and explore it ourselves.

Views of the Brecon landscape
cyclists riding through Black Mountain
Abergwesyn Common to Llanwrtyd Wells – 20 minutes

Llanwrtyd Wells

We stopped in Llanwrtyd Wells, Britain’s smallest town, gasping for a coffee.

Caffi Sosban, housed in a former bank (check the original vault door downstairs), was our salvation. We sat in the small patio garden overlooking the River Irfon to enjoy our refreshments.

The town is home to the world bog snorkelling championships (I kid you not!) but also has a few places to eat and drink if you are looking for something more than a coffee.

Green sign for Llanwrtyd Wells
Llanwrtyd Wells to Pen Y Fan – 50 minutes

Pen Y Fan

We had pondered when, if, and why we should climb Pen Y Fan – the highest mountain in South Wales and decided to go for it on our first day in the Brecon Beacons.

Pen y Fan sits adjacent to Corn Du, and the twin mountain peaks are known as “Arthur’s Chair”, named after the mighty King Arthur of the Sword in the Stone fame.

Hikers can find some of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons around this summit.

Arthurs Chair

We arrived at the Pont ar Daf car park in the early afternoon. The sun was shining, and the place was packed, but before we had time to change our minds, my trainers were on my feet (my walking boots had just fallen apart,!) and we set off to tackle this mighty mountain.

Do you want to know how we got on and whether this climb/walk/hike suits you? Check out my post about Pen Y Fan to help you decide. All I can tell you is it is not as easy as the guidebooks would have you believe!

Pen y Fan and Corn Du form part of the sixteen peaks on The Beacons Way, a 159km walking route passing through the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Top Tip: Explore Pen Y Fan in the afternoon; it will still be busy but not as crowded as in the morning.

Mountain Top
Pen Y Fan Summit
Sheep on Pen y Fan Mountain
Pen Y Fan to The Plough Inn – 45 minutes

Day Three

The Plough Inn to Llandeilo – 5 minutes

Llandeilo is a pretty Welsh town with pastel-coloured houses and cute independent shops, and we wanted to check it out as we were only staying down the road.

Unfortunately, as it was a Sunday, we found all the shops were closed, apart from the cafe, which seemed to have attracted the entire town!

Nevertheless, we wandered down to the stone bridge that crosses the River Towy, which gave us a great vantage point to look back at the colourful terraced houses that line the main street.

On a weekday, shops with cute names like The Cuckoo’s Nest and The Lighthouse sell quality local crafts and souvenirs. And not forgetting Ginhaus Deli, which sells all things gin-related and, you’ve guessed it, some rather lovely delicatessen items.

The chic Cawdor Hotel, set in a 17th-century coaching inn, is on the high street and is a 10-minute walk from Llandeilo train station (providing regional rail services). We ate dinner here on our last night, and it was delicious. A great place to stay if you aren’t arriving by car.

Top Tip: On the way out of Llandeilo, grab a coffee at The Hangout; strangely, you will find it on an industrial estate, but believe me, the coffee is excellent.

Colourful houses in Llandeilo
River view in Llandeilo
Blue shopfront
Pink shopfront
Llandeilo to Carreg Cennen Castle –  13 minutes

Carreg Cennen Castle

I would use romantic, mystical and downright beautiful adjectives to describe Carreg Cennen castle.

Sitting 300ft above the River Cennen, these 13th-century castle ruins have 360-degree views across the Welsh countryside and, in my opinion, are one of the best places to visit on a trip to the Brecon Beacons.

The quaint gift shop is where you purchase an entry ticket – and maybe a Welsh cake and a cup of tea! Then it’s off up the track leading to the castle. 

We loved that we arrived just as it opened and had the place to ourselves. The sun shone, and the grass’s dew sparkled, bringing Carreg Cennen alive.

The castle is not very big, so you will probably only spend about 30 minutes there, but should you decide to explore the surrounding countryside, several walks start at the castle.

Top Tip: Carreg Cennen Castle is one of the best dark skies in Wales. If you want to stargaze, this is the place to do it.

Carreg Cennen Castle
Carreg Cennen Castle ruins
Carreg Cennen Castle to Llanddeusant –  30 minutes

Llanddeusant sheep

As you drive around the Brecons, you will notice all the sheep; at last count (not by me!), there were 9.53 million sheep in Wales! There is even a company that offers sheep trekking days.

We passed through LLandeusant as we drove through the Black Mountains and couldn’t believe how many there were.

The last time I saw this many sheep was in New Zealand! The long, straight road that runs through Llanddeusant seemed to be a magnet for cyclists as we passed quite a few.

It’s a lovely cycle route to take through such magnificent countryside.

Sheep
Sheep grazing by the road
sheep on hillside
Llanddeusant to Usk Reservoir –  30 minutes

Usk Reservoir

A more understated reservoir than Lyn Brianne, the 280-acre Usk Reservoir is suitable for a quick stop through the Brecons.

It is in a remote area surrounded by forest, and a 9km loop trail allows walkers and cyclists to explore more of it via forest tracks and footpaths. The reservoir is one of Wales’s best still-water trout fisheries, and visitors can fish with a permit.

Top Tip: If you have a dog with you, this is an excellent place for a dog-friendly walk.

Usk Reservoir
Usk Reservoir to Brecon canal –  40 minutes

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal 

The Mon and Brec Canal, as it’s fondly known, runs 33 miles through the Brecon Beacons. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Brecon, starting in the main town and following a course until it reaches Pontypool.

Many visitors to Wales enjoy week-long boating holidays beginning at one end of the canal and finishing at the other, a leisurely way of enjoying the beautiful countryside, small villages and welcoming pubs.

Its original use was to work alongside a network of tramways and/or railroads to bring coal and iron to the main Welsh towns.

These tracks are long gone, and the canal is now used for pleasure crafts rather than industrial barges. It is also a popular walking place, so we checked it out.

The walk starts at the canal bowl beside Brecon Theatre, an excellent place to grab refreshments and use the facilities.

Along the way, information boards give visitors insight into the canal’s history and its vital role in this area.

We walked for around 30 minutes and then turned back and returned. I was disappointed it wasn’t a quiet walk due to its proximity to the main road, but I am glad we gave it a go.

In Autumn, when the leaves change colour, it is meant to be one of the most beautiful walks in Wales.

Top Tip: Dragonfly day cruises will take you on a scenic trip along the canal

row of houses on the canal
stone bridge across the canal
Brecon Canal to Llangorse Lake –  15 minutes

Llangorse Lake

Llangorse Lake was high on my list of places to visit in the Brecon Beacons and, as it turned out, one of my favourites. It is the largest natural lake in South Wales and has been here since the last Ice Age.

Wondering what a crannog is? Just imagine Hagrid’s hut from Harry Potter but on an island in the water!

A crannog was an ancient lake dwelling in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland built out in the water as a defensive dwelling.

In addition, there are plenty of things to do at Llangorse Lake, including hiring rowing boats, SUP and kayaks, to name a few. It also has the only surviving crannog in Wales.

A dedicated visitor centre tells the story of King Arthur and how he threw his fabled sword back to the “Lady of the Lake”. Local legend suggests the lake was at Llangorse.

Llangorse Lake also has a lakeside walk, which is why we visited it. Several online maps to show you the route, but we found them hard to follow; at one point, they took us across a farm, which we soon found out was not the correct way!

The Llangorse Lake walk isn’t actually a loop walk. However, it is lovely and takes you across fields, beside the lake at points and finishes at the Victorian church of St Gastyn, famous for its gothic revival architecture.

Once you have spent time at the church, retrace your steps to the start of the walk.

Top Tip: Wear good walking boots, as parts of the route can be boggy after rainfall.

Lake with two swans and cannog
Llangorse Lake walk
St Gastyn Church
Llangorse Lake to The Plough Inn –  60 minutes

Day Four

After our 3-nights in the Brecon Beacons, we checked out and started our drive to Pembrokeshire for the second leg of our holiday in Wales. We made a few stops on the way, but Talley Abbey was the last one in the Brecon Beacons.

The Plough Inn to Talley Abbey – 12 minutes.

Talley Abbey

The 12th-century Talley Abbey is famed for being the only abbey in Wales for Premonstratensians monks, known as the ‘White Canons’ from the colour of their habit.

The Brecon Beacons weather was dreary on our last morning but added an ethereal atmosphere to this hallowed spot.

The impressive church tower stood out proud amongst the ruins, and a plan shows what the abbey would have looked like when it was in use.

Take the time to visit it on your way out of Llandeilo as it is quite a sight (especially if you like religious monuments), and should you fancy a walk, the Talley Woods are opposite with 2km and 4km trails to follow.

Leaving the sleepy village of Talley, we headed off for 7-nights in Pembrokeshire for the next part of our road-trip adventure, totally excited and looking forward to experiencing all the best things that Pembrokeshire could offer!

Talley Church

Other fun things to do in the Brecon Beacons include:

Brecon Mountain Railway

Penderyn Distillery

Four WaterFalls Trail

Wings of Wales Falconry

Alpaca Trekking

Horse Riding

National Showcase Centre for Wales

Lyn y Fan Fach Walk

Dinefwr Castle and Reserve

Ponticill Reservoir

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.

Please Pin for Future Travel to Wales

Ann

Friday 5th of May 2023

Hey Angie :) Your images looks amazing!

Do you know why the sheep are marked with different colours?

WhereAngieWanders

Friday 5th of May 2023

Thanks Ann, and yes, I do - it is to identify which farmer owns the sheep, as fields are often shared, and sheep also get loose and are found roaming the country pathways. The markings allow them to be taken back to the correct farmer. Some markings are also made to identify if a sheep is at breeding age or has given birth recently.

Puloma Bhattacharya

Sunday 5th of March 2023

Brecon Beacons looks like a fascinating place in Wales with so many picturesque places to The Lyn Brianne Dam and Usk reservoir are quite water bodies overlooking beautiful landscape. The. Carreg Cennen castle is charming and it so amusing to learn about the sheep trekking with the Llanddeusant sheep at the hills.Llandeilo is a beautiful town with pastel colored houses and shops with cute names Brecon Beacons is surely a must visit for me.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I hope you get there Puloma; Brecon Beacons is a fantastic place to visit and packed with things to do and see.

Maria Veloso

Saturday 4th of March 2023

So I had only heard of Brecon Beacon as a mountain peak and nothing else. It's very fascinating for me to know now that this. place is more than just a mountain with such great scenic beauty and architectural importance. The photos you've clicked makes more of an impact on how calming and soothing the Beacons valley is. Thans a lot for the relevant information about the place. Hoping to visit the Brecon Breckon soon.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Oh yes the Brecon Beacons cover a vast area and are packed with all manner of things to see and do as detailed in this post. I am sure you would love it!

Natascha

Thursday 2nd of March 2023

I walked the Pembrokeshire Coast Path years ago and always wanted to go back to Wales and explore more. Your pictures really made me want to plan a trip right now and I absolutely love the picture of the wooden walkways at Henryd Falls. The Beacons Way seems to be a great hike to see the area - I have to check this. And how do you remember all these Welsh placenames (and pronounciations....)?

Adele Gee

Thursday 2nd of March 2023

I do love road trips like this and you have provided quite the comprehensive itinerary. Thanks for that . I particularly love waterfall hunting and Henryd Falls would be high on my must see list. That vast landscape is so beautiful and inviting . Llandeilo - the town with the pastel houses is very interesting as well.

WhereAngieWanders

Thursday 2nd of March 2023

There are quite a few waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons and a walk which connects them - its called the 4 waterfalls hike (not very creative name but is a cool hike to make)